The High Court has upheld the Authority’s appeal in the case of Professional Standards Authority v Nursing and Midwifery Council and X against an NMC decision that there was no case to answer with respect to non-accidental injuries to a very young baby. The case was heard in public but the registrant’s details are withheld to protect the identity of the child.
The Authority challenged the decision of the NMC’s conduct and competence committee that there was no case to answer against a nurse whom the Family Court had found with her partner of failing to protect and to have potentially caused serious non-accidental injuries to her 14-week-old baby. The injuries had included multiple fractures in addition to bruising.
The Court agreed with the Authority that the NMC:
- had carried out an inadequate investigation, saying the NMC had applied ‘minimal effort’, adopted a ‘superficial approach’ and its approach to gathering evidence was flawed;
- failed to put relevant evidence before the panel and mis-directed the panel that there was no evidence available with respect to the charge; and
- that the panel could not have lawfully made the decision that there was no case to answer.
The Authority was also deeply concerned that the NMC had not considered that this case raised any regulatory concern when referring this case to Case Examiners in the first instance. The Authority’s Director of Scrutiny and Quality, Mark Stobbs said, ‘this case demonstrates why the Authority’s oversight of regulators’ fitness to practise processes is vital. The NMC failed to recognise that such serious safeguarding matters directly impact a registrant’s fitness to practise, whether the child is a patient or not’.
The Court has remitted the case back to the NMC with directions to consider gathering more evidence, using its best endeavours to do so and inviting it to reformulate its charge to better reflect the obvious concerns about fitness to practise.
Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care
Contact: Christine Braithwaite
Director Standards and Policy
Reception: 020 7389 8030
Notes to editors
- The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees nine statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
- We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
- The Standards of Good Regulation are designed to ensure that the regulators are protecting the public but also promoting confidence in health and care professionals and themselves. The Standards cover the regulators’ four core functions: setting and promoting guidance and standards for the profession; setting standards for and quality assuring the provision of education and training; maintaining a register of professionals; and taking action where a professional’s fitness to practise may be impaired.
- We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
- We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
- We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
- Our values are at the heart of who we are and what we do. We are committed to being impartial, fair, accessible and consistent in the application of our values.
- More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk